The Torch, Summer 2021

Page 1



News and features about and for the Dominican community

Mary B. Marcy DPhil Honoring the Past, Embracing the Future page 13



JOHN KENNEDY 1943 - 2021

In his almost 30-year career as the head of Student Life at Dominican, John served as a wise mentor to thousands of students and a generous colleague and friend. John had the remarkable ability to combine a clear, strong sense of purpose with a gentle approach and a delightful sense of humor. This fall, we will gather on campus — in our Dominican community, which John loved, nurtured, and forever changed for the better — to celebrate his life. We also will share more about John’s lasting impact on Dominican in the fall/winter issue of The Torch.


Spring/Summer 2021

In This Issue

2 News 7 Student Perspective 8 Athletics - Rec Sports 9

In Memory: Father Robert Haberman 1949-2021

11 Innovations during COVID-19 13 Honoring the Past, Embracing the Future

20 Alumni News 27 Class Notes

The Torch The Torch is a publication presenting the news, people and progress of Dominican University of California. The symbol of the flaming torch, representing truth, is rooted in the history of St. Dominic. The University’s motto is “Truth, a flaming torch.” The torch is carried by one of the “hounds of the Lord,” or, in Latin, “Domini canes.”

President Mary B. Marcy, DPhil

Lead Editor Jessica Jordan

Art Direction/ Production Margaret Wylie

Editors Marly A. Norris Sarah Gardner Victoria Grajeda

Writers Dave Albee Sarah Gardner Victoria Grajeda Mark Jaime Autumn Jordan Jessica Jordan Jenn Krengel Tricia Lacy

Photographers Dave Albee Dominican Archives Dominican Athletics Jennifer Bellingham Sarah Gardner Joe Gaylor Stuart Lirette Dia Rao

Published By Dominican University of California 50 Acacia Ave. San Rafael, CA 94901 (415) 257-1396

LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT Dear Friends, Goodbyes are hard. This one is especially difficult. There is so much I have come to love about Dominican University of California, including the pure dedication to student success, the strong sense of community that has sparked so many lifelong friendships, and the beautiful, picturesque campus. But most of all, I will miss the people I have come to know and cherish: bright, caring students, talented faculty, dedicated staff, loyal alumni, and administrators and trustees. Their care for the University is unwavering. Together, we have accomplished a great deal. In the last decade, perhaps most notable has been establishing The Dominican Experience, which has earned recognition from the American Council on Education as a model for student success and small college innovation. Today, every undergraduate student at Dominican, regardless of major, receives personalized coaching, participates in some community engagement, completes original research or a signature work, and develops a digital portfolio to provide a portable record of their educational experience. This signature program places the University among a small group of institutions transformed around a clear vision of student engagement and high-quality learning. And after 10 years, I am proud of the difference this program has made in the lives of our students and young alumni. While there is much to celebrate, Dominican must continue to innovate to meet the ongoing challenges facing all of higher education. We are fortunate to have a gifted new president in place to meet these challenges. Dr. Nicola Pitchford has the vision, leadership, experience, love of Dominican, and the personal qualities needed to continue to fulfill the mission that is so crucial and meaningful to all of us. Thank you. It has been an honor to serve Dominican’s founding ideals of study, reflection, community and service. Sincerely,

Mary B. Marcy President




Dr. Mojgan Behmand Named VP for Academic Affairs, Dean of the Faculty


ominican University of California President-Elect Nicola Pitchford has appointed Dr. Mojgan Behmand as vice president for academic affairs (VPAA) and dean of the faculty, beginning July 1, 2021. Dr. Pitchford, who currently serves as VPAA and dean of the faculty, begins her tenure as Dominican’s 10th president on that day.

“Mojgan played key roles in all three components of Dominican’s remarkable collective achievement of rethinking our GE, then rapidly revising the entire undergraduate curriculum, in both content and structure, over the course of only two years — while also bringing to scale the signature wraparound learning model of the Dominican Experience,” Pitchford said.

Dr. Behmand has served as Dominican’s associate VPAA and dean of the Dominican Experience since 2019. She joined Dominican as a tenure-track assistant professor of English in 2007, earning tenure in 2011 and early promotion to the rank of professor in 2015. Her administrative roles included director of faculty development, director of general education and first-year experience, and associate VPAA and dean of general studies. She also served as acting VPAA during the fall 2018 semester.

Dr. Behmand successfully sought (or partnered in securing) more than $850,000 in gift and grant funding to support curricular initiatives, including developing the statewide Civic Action Fellowship.

“The initiatives Mojgan has led have been numerous and enormously significant for shaping Dominican students’ experience,” Pitchford said. “She has been an exceptional faculty leader at Dominican over the past 13 years.” The initial one-year appointment will ensure continuity in academic leadership as Dominican negotiates the pandemic’s impact while also providing an opportunity to confer and consult in the context of shared governance about the longer-term vision for this vital leadership role. Dr. Behmand has steered several key curricular initiatives, including the redesign of the honors program and the 2017-18 overhaul of the former general education (GE) curriculum, leading to adopting the University’s current Core Curriculum with a vote of approval from more than 84% of the Faculty Forum.

This past year Dr. Behmand also worked with both the CARE and HOPE teams to help retain and support struggling students during the pandemic, marshaling the University’s resources to provide coordinated care across the challenges students and families are facing. Dr. Behmand was the founding director of Dominican’s First Year Experience "Big History" program and creator and co-editor of the book “Teaching Big History” published by UC Press in 2014 and written in collaboration with Dominican faculty. She has published and presented widely on comprehensive curricular revision, faculty development, institutional culture change, Big History pedagogy, and medieval Persian epics and passion plays. She has an affinity for specialty courses on individual and communal identity, 19th-century women’s literature, Gothic novels, and world literature. Dr. Behmand holds a master’s degree and a PhD in English from the University of Düsseldorf.




A Culture of Care L

ast spring, soon after the University’s sudden shift to remote instruction, Dominican sent out a survey to check in with students. The questions covered a wide range of issues — from technology to academics and finances — to help determine how to best support students during uncertain times. While the results highlighted several positive aspects of remote learning, students reported a wide range of challenges, from insecure housing to increased family responsibilities. Financial concerns topped the list. This initial survey set in place a chain of events that led the University to reimagine how it identifies and supports at-risk students, particularly those experiencing financial problems during the pandemic. The key is ongoing collaboration between offices that are used to working with students — but not necessarily with each other. “We are seeing a real shift in our campus culture right now,” noted Dr. Mojgan Behmand, associate vice president for academic affairs and dean of the Dominican Experience. “We are breaking down silos to focus on supporting our students.”



Not long after the spring survey, Dr. Behmand talked with her cabinet colleagues about the impact of the pandemic on students. “Everyone was pretty much saying the same thing — that many of our students needed help,” she said. “But everyone was focused on developing their own plans. We needed to figure out the overlaps and synergies to figure out how to support the students.” As advising for registration for the fall semester approached, Business Services and Financial Aid began noticing an uptick in students with holds on their accounts. Behmand decided it was time to bring together department directors across the University to identify the challenges students were facing and develop solutions to help get them registered. With this goal in mind, Dominican established the HOPE (Help Our Penguins get Educated) Team in March 2020. Comprising members from the Business Services Office, Educational Effectiveness, Financial Aid, Student Life, the Registrar’s Office, the Student Success Center, and Academic Affairs, the group began meeting weekly to address obstacles to student success.


The team’s collaboration has already yielded results, including a record 87% first- to second-year retention rate and undergraduate holds dropping from 100 to 45 at a time when families and students are facing numerous obstacles. Additional outreach later brought the number down to zero holds. Sometimes the hold was due to an easy-to-solve issue, such as a missing signature. Other times the problem was not so easy to fix: unemployment, a depleted financial aid package, or the sudden loss of a home (several students and their families lost homes in the California wildfires). For those facing financial stress, the University distributed additional financial aid, as well as laptops and tools to boost internet capacity. Funding came from multiple sources, including donor and foundation-funded scholarships and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. Student buy-in was essential. “While we were working on ways to support the students, it was important for us to see that they also assumed agency and ownership,” Behmand said. “We needed students to realize that, together, we can work out a way through to make sure they remain enrolled and progress toward graduation.”

A subsequent check-in survey was distributed in fall 2020. Based on the responses, the HOPE Team created tools for faculty and advisors to use when communicating with students needing assistance. Today, faculty know when and how to direct students toward support, including the Tutoring and Learning Center, Counseling Services, the Student Success Center, Accessibility and Disability Services, or the Connection, Advocacy, Resources, Education Team. This spring, the HOPE team offered students an opportunity to apply for additional scholarships for tuition or on-campus room and board. As of March, 143 graduate and undergraduate students received aid thanks to support from several foundations, including Bill Hannon Foundation, a longtime funding partner to Dominican in providing significant support for needbased undergraduate scholarships. 377 students received help through government funding, and 56 received other scholarships, including the Angel Fund, Close the Gap Scholarship, and the Student in Need fund. “Demonstrating compassion and flexibility is key,” Behmand said. “Our goal is to help students develop action steps to move them toward degree completion. Nobody wins if a student fails to graduate.”




Dominican in National Top 10 for Post-Grad Salaries


ominican joins Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yale University, and Stanford University among the nation’s top 10 schools for post-graduate salaries, according to new college rankings based on early-career salary data from the U.S. Department of Education. The ranking, which is based on data and student outcomes, highlights and reinforces the importance of the Dominican Experience to student success. “I am confident that Dominican is the only institution near the top of this list whose student body includes such a high percentage of students who are the first in their family to attend college, who are from underrepresented groups, or who are Pell Grant-eligible,” Dominican President Mary B. Marcy said. “Not coincidentally, we are the only institution in the top tier that articulates its commitment to student success clearly through the Dominican Experience.” GradReports compared the salaries of more than 4.6 million college graduates to determine “Salary Scores” for more than 885 college degrees, then used the scores to rank the 2021 Best Colleges at the associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s levels. A pool of more than 900 colleges was ranked in the bachelor’s degree category, with data sourced from



the U.S. Department of Education's College Scorecard. Each college is ranked based on median earnings in the first year after graduation for students who received federal financial aid. The Salary Score compares the median alumni salary for a specific program at one school to the median alumni salary for the same program at other schools, allowing prospective students to see which institutions offer top earnings for that program. Each school then receives an overall Salary Score by degree level to recognize colleges that prepare students for a high-paying career regardless of major. This overall score is based on how well the school performs across all of its programs, weighted by student enrollment in each program. Scores compare alumni salaries to those of alumni from the same programs across all schools, which makes Dominican’s overall Salary Score and placement among the nation’s top 10 schools a remarkable achievement. “This announcement comes on the heels of a series of exceptional accolades for Dominican,” President Marcy said, “and reinforces that we are a University of unsurpassed opportunity for students from all backgrounds.”


Dominican Plans In-Person Instruction for Fall


ollowing more than a year of virtual learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dominican University of California intends to return to primarily in-person instruction for the fall 2021 semester. “As we look to fall 2021, we are developing plans to configure classes, residence halls and shared spaces in accordance with state and county public health guidelines,” said President Mary B. Marcy. “We will leverage our small size to make decisions based on research, advice, best practices, and experience while continuing to work in close collaboration with Marin Public Health.” The University’s optimism for in-person instruction is buoyed by the rollout of the COVID vaccine, which is currently being distributed to Dominican’s front-line health professions students and faculty. The University is working closely with public health officials to track wider vaccine distribution for all Dominican faculty and staff.

“The health and safety protocols we successfully introduced this academic year, along with a comprehensive testing program, have kept our campus community well protected,” President Marcy said. “Our diligence allowed more than 500 students and 200 faculty and staff to continue to work, study and live on campus this year. This has given us both information and confidence as we work with county and state health departments to offer our students a more traditional on-campus college experience this fall.” Dominican will adapt as needed to any changing public health requirements. “We will continue to invest in exciting new approaches for enriched learning to provide all students with the highest-quality education, a structured network of personal and professional support, and opportunities to safely interact with our greater community through internships and public service,” President Marcy said.

Dominican To Add PhD, Graduate Programs In Art Therapy


ominican University of California is set to acquire the well-regarded graduate programs in art therapy from Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU).

Effective summer 2021 and pending accreditors’ approval, the acquisition will allow Dominican to offer its first earned doctoral degree, the PhD in art therapy. The transfer, which will be finalized upon approval by the WASC Senior College and University Commission, will also include the Master of Arts in art therapy and Master of Arts in marriage and family therapy. The result of months of collaborative discussions with NDNU leadership and the faculty and staff of the Art Therapy department, the plan has the enthusiastic support of Dominican’s faculty and board of trustees. The universities will coordinate closely on the programs’ transfer, ensuring that both current students and new applicants experience a seamless transition. “These graduate degree programs align seamlessly with Dominican’s mission and existing strengths, the University’s focus on the intersection of the liberal and fine arts and the health sciences, and our longstanding commitment to service and social justice,” said Dr. Nicola Pitchford, vice president for academic affairs, dean of the faculty, and President-Elect.

Art therapists are master’s-level clinicians trained in psychology, human development, counseling, therapeutic techniques, and the visual arts. They work in a wide variety of settings, including schools, mental health organizations, hospitals, nursing homes, prisons and private practice. In recent years, art therapists have been included in medical and mental health support teams deployed to communities in the aftermath of disasters. Established in 1979, NDNU’s Master of Arts in art therapy is the only program of its kind in Northern California and one of only two programs in the state. Enrollment has increased steadily in recent years, with 65 students enrolled in the program in fall 2020. The program’s success led NDNU to establish the PhD in art therapy in 2013. As one of only two PhD art therapy programs in the country, it attracts a diverse student body from throughout the United States and overseas. Dominican is eager to welcome these established and respected programs, the accomplished faculty, and the students engaging with both the practice and scholarship of art therapy psychology. The programs will be housed in the School of Liberal Arts and Education.




Graphic Design Students Utilize Dominican iPads During Remote Learning


ouble major Emma Hartvickson ’24 came to Dominican as a student-athlete with two advantages that have helped her manage during the COVID-19 pandemic: an opportunity to compete on the University’s volleyball team, and the iPad provided by Dominican’s graphic design program. “I feel like my experience has been better than expected, and that is because it is the Dominican experience,” Emma said. “I have a lot of friends back home going to state colleges with 400-plus people in one Zoom call and professors who don't really know their name,” said Emma, who is majoring in graphic design and business. “I feel thankful to be here at Dominican with coaches and professors who value my education and success. With smaller class sizes, it's easier to stay engaged and interact with your classmates in this new world of Zoom.” Staying engaged has been even easier thanks to the dedication of Steven Polacco, chair and director of the graphic design program in the School of Liberal Arts and Education. Last summer, faced with the prospect that the pandemic would extend into the 2021 academic year and keep students out of his laboratory, Polacco decided to purchase and distribute new iPads to his faculty and 46 students for the fall semester. To help facilitate the project, Dominican refunded students’ graphic design lab fees, so they could use the money to sign up for monthly access to Adobe software. “This represents one of those great efforts where everybody puts in a little, and you end up with a really good outcome,” said Polacco, who earned a BA and MFA from Cal-Berkeley. “Our students have been incredibly happy. We had almost 100 percent retention.”

This represents one of those great efforts where everybody puts in a little, and you end up with a really good outcome. — Steven Polacco, chair and director, graphic design program Because each iPad includes an Apple pencil that allows the user to draw on the tablet, the devices have opened up new avenues of learning for Polacco’s students. “It completely changed the game in terms of how they create their graphic designs, graphics illustrations and photography,” he said. Some of Polacco’s students are majoring or minoring in graphic design, while many are enrolled in graphic illustration, graphic design, or photography classes for general education or core credit. During the fall semester, Emma and her classmates used the tablets to create Election Day posters in Polacco’s Art 1085: Graphic Design 1 and Art 3351 Research Applications class.



Election Day image (above) created by Emma Hartvickson '24

“The iPads are the key to it all,” she said. “Having them makes it easy to follow along with Professor Polacco in class when he is doing a demo. He has been super supportive of our work since day one and has helped me organize my class schedule, so I get the most out of my semesters.” Emma brought her Dominican iPad with her from her home in Kent, Washington when she returned to campus for volleyball practice and kept it to use for spring classes. Others returned their iPads for redistribution to other students for the spring semester. Polacco credits the smooth transition to tablet learning to the resiliency of his students and faculty. He also cites Peter Mentzer, head of Information technology services; Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of The Dominican Experience Mojgan Behmand; and Gigi Gokcek, dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Education, for their support. “We didn’t skip a beat,” he said. “In fact, I think we picked up even more value. It was an eye-opener for me.” Polacco has even noticed an uptick in students seeking graphic design as a minor. “It’s turning into a perfectly viable way of delivering graphic design to our students. That’s a major transformation,” he said. “This year with COVID, it’s one of those things where you either get crushed and succumb to the pressure, or you can innovate and thrive.”


Recreation Sports Helps Dominican Community Stay Well


ecreation Sports, fondly known to the Dominican community as Rec Sports, has not only survived during the pandemic but has thrived. Through creativity, flexibility, and regular pivots to stay in line with Marin County public health COVID guidelines, Rec Sports, under the leadership of Recreational Sports and Allen Sports Club Manager Matt Gaulding, MBA ‘12, has provided opportunities for students, faculty, staff and alumni to destress and refocus on physical and mental health. “Our community’s safety has been a top priority when it comes to encouraging students to get engaged again with online and outdoor activities,” Gaulding said. “We’re happy we could bring some much-needed joy and opportunities for connection to the Dominican community throughout the pandemic.”

Online Classes Online yoga and Zumba classes allowed those who were not comfortable meeting in person to engage. Yoga teacher Crystal Hatzimichael taught online yoga, and classes filled up quickly as people took the opportunity to unwind and regain mental clarity. Fernanda Cedeno taught Zumba and gave the Dominican community the chance to have fun while working out to a great mix of international music. A partnership with The Room provided access to virtual on-demand fitness classes.

In-Person Classes As restrictions allowed, in-person classes were offered throughout the fall and spring, including Zumba, Yoga, and SoulCycle. Those strolling by Conlan Recreation Center may have seen mask-wearing, socially distant students exercising and enjoying being together.

Outdoor Activities Golf at McInnis on Friday nights provided access to reserved driving range stalls. Hikes around Marin in beautiful locations like Peacock Gap Trail, Cataract Falls, and Wood Oaks Trail encouraged students to take a study break and clear their minds.

Online Activities Esports, a new endeavor for Rec Sports, helped keep students connected through Rec Games Nights on their Discord server, a group made by students for students (although they are careful to point out that faculty and alumni are also welcome). Rec Sports has hosted six virtual challenges since October 2020. The Trick Shot challenge allowed students to let their creativity shine competitively, while the Throwback challenge encouraged students to submit a photo of their favorite pre-COVID memory on campus or Dominican-sponsored activity. A holiday challenge, Zumba challenge, distance challenge and selfie scavenger hunt rounded out the offerings.

Having rec sports offer activities in person helps me get away from my computer. It’s so nice seeing people while being safe and doing fun activities! — Rosa Leguria, 3rd-year biology major on the softball team

This past semester has been filled with a lot of obstacles. However, once Dominican Rec sports was able to schedule in-person activities such as hikes around Marin County this semester, I was able to attend to take study breaks and enjoy socially distanced hikes with my peers. — Edgard Morazan, 3rd-year biology major on the men's soccer team

[I] just wanted to say that you’re doing an amazing job making so much happen despite all the impediments these days. I had a student tell me that the Zumba classes during all of this have saved her from totally losing it. It’s great you include faculty and staff too. Thanks for all you do! — Susana McKeough, student health center director




In Memory: Father Robert Haberman 1949-2021


ather Robert Haberman, a beloved member of the Dominican community for more than 30 years, passed away peacefully on Jan. 24. He was 71.

of the famous “pizza hat” and proclaiming, “Time to party!” captured both Fr. Bob’s pastoral touch and his mischievous sense of fun.

Fr. Bob came to Dominican 32 years ago from his home state of Colorado, and often joked that he was on “temporary assignment” from his diocese in Pueblo. In his tenure at Dominican, Fr. Bob served the campus in several different capacities, including as faculty member, chair of the religion department, director of campus ministry, residence hall coordinator, and University chaplain.

Fr. Bob was often called upon to officiate the weddings of former students, baptize the children of alumni, and celebrate the lives of the recently deceased. “We provide all the services,” Fr. Bob once quipped, “hatch, match and dispatch.” His sense of humor and gift for being a calming and reassuring presence will most certainly be missed by the entire Dominican community: students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the many friends of the University.

Dominican President Mary B. Marcy recalls that Fr. Bob’s insight into Dominican’s history was invaluable when she arrived to serve as Dominican’s president in 2011.

Fr. Bob received his Doctor of Ministry from the San Francisco Theological Seminary, his Master of Divinity from St. Mary’s University, and his Bachelor of Arts from Loras College. He also completed additional studies at the University of Jerusalem, Dartmouth University, the University of Notre Dame, and the University of San Francisco.

“We quickly bonded over our shared experiences growing up in rural middle America,” President Marcy said. “He was astutely able to find such connections with nearly everyone, and his gentle presence and playful sense of humor will be greatly missed.” Fr. Bob is remembered for his passion for all things “Star Wars” (so much so that he based a course on analyzing the religious underpinnings of Darth Vader’s empire and Luke Skywalker’s rebellion) and his love of the Dominican community — especially the students he so deeply cared for and served. His commitment and service to the University are rivaled only by the many relationships and connections he built with Dominican alumni and friends over the years. His benediction at the close of every commencement, followed by his donning



Fr. Bob. had battled leukemia for a long time, and recently required hospitalization due to additional complications. His condition worsened, and he was unable to recover. During virtual Reunion on April 17, Alumni Relations and Campus Ministry posthumously inducted Father Bob into the Dominican University of California Alumni Association, in recognition of his dedication and service to Dominican and our alumni. The University is working with the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael and Fr. Bob’s family in Colorado to explore options for a celebration of his life while remaining mindful of public health restrictions.


The Dominican Community Remembers Fr. Bob


t is the word friendship that describes you so beautifully and honestly. Clearly, your love of God and your friendship with God opened the whole world in the gift of friendship. You have the precious gift of creating community, as we experienced so specially at Dominican and Our Lady of Lourdes. Thank you, dear Father Bob, for giving so generously and lovingly and joyfully! — Sister Ann Providence Frassinello, O.P. ’61


r. Bob opened our wedding ceremony with "Finally!” to which my grandfather replied, "Amen!". We so appreciated his sense of community, and he brought a bit of humor to ease the wedding-day jitters. Fr. Bob was one of my first professors at Dominican, and later became a coworker and friend. He lived the Dominican ideals of service, community, study and prayer, and he will be deeply missed.

— From Eileen Burns Caparoso ’06, MS ’08


am grateful to have known Fr. Bob from the earlier days of Campus Ministry, when I served on the Campus Ministry Advisory Board, to the most recent alumni event. Caring, quiet, but always relaying more through that twinkle in his eye — these are qualities I will hold dear. I ache for my alma mater's loss. Rest in peace, dear Fr. Bob. You earned it!

— Jean Smith Nelson '72


r. Bob did so many things for so many people at Dominican over the 30-plus years he was there, and his influence can’t be measured. Just hearing the stories over the last week from all the people he touched is proof. The tales from the students who went on his La Bamba missionary trips to Tijuana alone could take hours to tell, and the photos from those trips would fill volumes of albums. It would take at least another album to include every photo from all the ‘alums’ he's married, and their kids that he's baptized (including mine). To say he’ll be missed is an understatement. To say he can ever be replaced is impossible.

— Ben Stricker ’95


r. Bob was so special. The man, the myth, the legend, the miracle. He championed Campus Ministry and the Catholic heritage of Dominican. He served our Dominican community selflessly and with such humility and strength. He was often a moral compass for our campus. We were blessed to have him for so long, and blessed that his journey brought him to San Rafael. I will never, ever forget what his life has taught me: as a priest, as a teacher, as a supervisor, as a mentor, as a friend.


r. Bob, my favorite man of the cloth. You embraced my unorthodox mannerisms and gave me the leadership opportunities I needed to grow. You always knew a groovy bass line. I know we'll joke again in Divine Mercy.

— Gabriel Guevara ’11


r. Bob was a true gem within the Dominican community. He made church feel like an escape, a respite, a relief from the demands of college life and young adulthood. There are no words to encapsulate how witty and deeply meaningful his homilies were. It's like he knew exactly what to say to help me prepare for another week. He kept spirituality and faith simple and accessible to students. He was there when we needed him (usually with a smile and a side of dry and clever humor). Thank you for making such an impact on my college life and my spiritual journey. Rest in Paradise.

— Leeann Francisco ‘20


r. Bob was one of the kindest and gentlest priests I have ever known. I could truly feel God's mercy and love working through from Fr. Bob whenever I went to confession with him. His homilies were amazing, and there were days when they answered the questions radiating through my mind about my faith. He was an amazing person, and he will be missed by many. — Frances Pham ’21

– Lianni Castro ’04




Innovation During COVID-19 Angel Fund Thanks to donors to the Angel Fund, Dominican is assisting students to access technology during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing electronic devices to enhance their education.

Outdoor Classrooms Who says a classroom has to have four walls? Science classes and occupational therapy practicums moved outdoors to new alfresco classrooms with redwood stools and the lovely green Anne Hathaway lawn.

Faculty Innovation Dr. Thomas Cavanagh Associate Professor of Management

Athletics The athletics department was allowed to welcome teams back to campus in September and found creative ways to train outside. Dominican teams credit the support of Penguin donors and fans for keeping them motivated during the extended off-season.



Dr. Thomas Cavanagh utilizes the “flipped classroom” where students watch lecture materials before class, then spend live class time engaging with the material through discussion and activities.


Thanks to astute leadership, creative faculty, resilient students and generous donors, Dominican was able to nimbly adapt to the many challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Outdoor Dance Studio A generous rapid response grant from the Fletcher Jones Foundation funded many pandemic-induced innovations, including outdoor studio space for students in the Alonzo King LINES Ballet BFA program to continue their dance education despite restrictions on the use of indoor facilities. Rehearsals and shows moved to the new space for the fall and spring semesters.

Service Learning More than 200 Dominican students participate in service-learning each semester. Dominican’s Service-Learning program was able to find meaningful virtual experiences for students as well as in-person service opportunities.

Institute for Leadership Studies The Institute for Leadership Studies, in partnership with Book Passage, continues to bring distinguished authors and speakers to the Dominican community — this year in a live virtual format. Last fall, they welcomed Chasten Buttigieg, Rev. Al Sharpton and John Meacham. This spring, they hosted Robert Reich, Isabel Allende, Heidi Kuhn and Sharon Stone.

On-Site COVID Testing Thanks to the incredible generosity of an anonymous donor, Dominican has performed more than 7,000 COVID-19 tests on campus. Marly Norris, campus COVID-19 response lead, noted, “We're grateful to the entire campus community for participating in regular testing, wearing masks, and physically distancing. It has not been easy, but our incredibly low case rate shows we have been successful.”




Honoring the Past

Embracing the Future


en years ago, Mary B. Marcy stepped foot on the Dominican campus for the first time. She had just been offered the job as the University’s ninth president and was ready to say yes. But first, she wanted to see the campus for herself.

Flying in from Massachusetts — where she was serving as provost and vice president of Bard College at Simon’s Rock — Marcy was not entirely sure why the search firm was so insistent that she was the perfect fit to serve as Dominican’s next president.

“Dominican’s campus is such a beautiful place, and you would think that a site visit would be key to winning over a candidate,” she said. “But because of Dominican’s mission and the sense of alignment, I was already won over.”

“When I was recruited, I was surprised because I do not have a Catholic background, and I did not know all that much about Dominican,” she recalled. “The search consultant said, ‘Trust me, you have the right values and the right perspective. I think this could be a great fit.’”

In keeping with a practice common in higher education, Dominican held a closed presidential search with the final candidates invited to a week-long series of confidential meetings in San Francisco.

It didn’t take long for Marcy — whose work and research focused on strategies around student success — to realize that Dominican was, in fact, the perfect fit.



FEATURE That week, talking with alumni, students, faculty, board members, and staff, she recognized a common theme: Dominican was an institution dedicated to students — to their education, their transformation, and their success. An extensive strategic plan included an aspirational goal that resonated with Marcy: to ensure that every student receives a rigorous liberal arts education, and that classroom experience is augmented with a robust set of partnerships that guarantee that every student puts their learning into action.

“It was not just that they were there on the committee and interviewing me,” President Marcy said. “They had a big presence because of their engagement and their thoughtfulness. It was clear they provided the moral compass for the University. They wanted to know both what I could do and what my values were. Their questions and their engagement spoke of ethical education with meaning. They made a big impression during the interview process, and that impression was fully validated after I arrived.” This began a decade-long friendship between President Marcy, her spouse Jan, and the sisters.

It didn’t take me long to feel at home, and to feel that perhaps I could contribute to this long and powerful story of Dominican. — President Mary B. Marcy “There was a real alignment between my research and work focused on student success and the things Dominican was already discussing,” President Marcy said. “Dominican was already thinking about how to improve the student experience, especially as our student body became more diverse. I saw great potential to strengthen the University and support students by focusing on student success — work fully grounded in research and my own experience.”


resident Marcy vividly remembers that first visit to Dominican — from the drive across the Golden Gate Bridge on a beautiful Saturday afternoon to Dr. Françoise Lepage meeting her in the Conlan Center parking lot for an “insiders” tour of the campus. “I did not just tour the buildings and see the beautiful landscape, which, of course, were stunning,” she said. “I heard stories from Françoise about her students, about the University, about both the history and the potential of Dominican. It didn’t take me long to feel at home, and to feel that perhaps I could contribute to this long and powerful story of Dominican.” The Dominican Sisters also made a strong impression, both during the interview process and in the months and years that followed. Both Sister Pat Simpson and Sister Maureen McInerney sat on the search committee. They were determined to learn as much as possible about the person who would shape the University’s future.

“I will always remember one year, when Jan’s father died close to the start of the academic year,” she said. “We had just started the series of annual fall events, including dinner with the sisters. The sisters knew that Jan’s father had passed. When they came over for dinner, we all first went into the back yard. Without us knowing they were going to do this, they formed a circle and sang for him. They were helping us hold and honor a life they did not even know, because of a life he had created. That, to me, was representative of all of the generosity, kindness and intuitiveness that the sisters demonstrate every day.”


resident Marcy knows well the impact education can have on a life. She grew up on a ranch in Hay Springs, Neb., with 32 students in her graduating high school class. After graduating from the University of Nebraska, she was accepted to both Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and Oxford University. Dominican’s president recalls her first day at Oxford — a story that perhaps underscores her own commitment to providing support and structure for students as they explore new environments. “I had barely been outside of a five-state region in the middle of the country. I was completely intimidated. When I arrived, I checked in with my college, and they gave me the keys to my room,” she said. “I opened the door and walked into this lovely room on the third floor, looking right across at the Bodleian Library and the Sheldonian Theatre. The room was about 10-by-12 feet, and there was a desk, a space for books, and a wooden bench with a cushion on it — and that was it. So, I thought to myself, ‘Well, I guess they’re pretty serious about studying.’” She put her clothes underneath the bench and the books on the shelves, setting up the room for living.



FEATURE “I was almost done unpacking,” President Marcy said, “and a guy who had a room down the hall came in and introduced himself. He asked what I was doing, and I told him I was setting up my room. And he said, ‘You’re not going to sleep here, are you?’ And I said, ‘Well, this is my room,’ and he started laughing at me. That’s when he said, ‘Your bedroom’s down the hall. Graduate students get a study and a bedroom.’ I was prepared to sleep on a futon couch and pack my clothes underneath it if that’s the way things rolled in Oxford.” Eventually, she survived the culture and academic shock — and thrived, playing on (and eventually coaching) the basketball team, joining the strategic studies club, and cultivating a deep intellectual curiosity. “When I was able to be successful at Oxford, it gave me a sense of where I belonged in the world,” President Marcy said. “I found my voice, and had been challenged to the fullest of my abilities. That’s what led me into higher education. It is a way, not only to find a profession, but to find your voice, and to be your full and authentic self and offer that to the world. I hope I have helped provide a similar opportunity for others.”

engagement,” she said during the Installation Ceremony in front of a capacity crowd of 850 in Angelico Hall. “The goal is to ensure that every student receives a rigorous liberal arts education. And the goal is to augment that classroom experience with a strong set of partnerships that ensure students put their learning into action.” The ceremony began with an inaugural procession from Edgehill to Angelico Hall. Dressed in the academic regalia of their respective institutions, delegates from dozens of colleges and universities led the inauguration procession into Angelico Hall. Their distinguishing caps and gowns and an assortment of vividly colored hoods added historic pageantry and color. Delegates marched in order of each institution’s founding date, the representative of the oldest going first — in this case, the University of Oxford (1096), followed by Harvard University (1636). President Marcy recalls that the day was a blur, packed with tradition, ceremony and many introductions. But one face in the crowd helped her feel at home. She had met Mary Helen Power Fairchild ’48 not long after arriving at Dominican. “There were so many people around me, so much going on, and so many people I did not know very well, if at all,” she recalled. “And then I saw Mary Helen looking at me and just beaming. I walked toward her, and I gave her a big hug. A photographer captured that moment, and the picture was used on the front cover of The Torch with the caption, ‘Honoring the past, embracing the future.’ It was a propitious moment and a prophetic headline.” Honoring the past while embracing the future has been at the core of President Marcy’s work these past 10 years.

P President Marcy’s inauguration


n Oct. 29, 2011, at her inauguration ceremony as Dominican’s new president, she unveiled her inaugural vision to develop an educational model that would prepare students to succeed in an increasingly complex and diverse world. This approach would give all students equitable access to an education that would serve them well in college and beyond. It offered the type of skills that had staying power: the ability to think clearly, to analyze thoroughly, to reason, to assess, and to communicate across differences. “Our mission is to align academic excellence and Dominican values, to champion an educational model that is enduring and relevant, personal in its experience and global in its



resident Marcy began her work developing the Dominican Experience by listening to the campus community. At a series of presidential “listenings,” guests were first asked to read selected articles about high-impact learning and then discuss ways in which they and the institution could be most successful implementing these practices. “It was wonderful — the institution was eager to have those conversations, and I had a chance to learn from and get to know Dominican’s amazing faculty and staff,” President Marcy said. She also stayed true to that inaugural pledge of drawing on the University’s history as she and the campus community began developing a framework in which faculty, peers, community partners and alumni mentors would all have roles in helping students grow, discover potential and expand interests.

FEATURE “We have evolved with the needs of a changing world,” she said. “Such evolution is possible because we have clarity about Dominican’s enduring strengths. The soul of our institution resides in the Dominican values. Those values, the values of study, reflection, community and service, are at the core of our mission.” The Dominican values are the legacy President Marcy carried while building Dominican for the next generation. The educational model she developed — now known as the Dominican Experience — will remain her legacy.

In 2020, the American Council on Education and Fidelity Investments named Dominican the most transformative four-year university in the nation in recognition of a deep commitment to opportunity and success.

• President Marcy was honored with the 2020 William M. Burke Presidential Award for Excellence in Experiential Education by The Washington Center. • In 2021, Dominican ranked 10th in the nation for early-career salaries for its graduates. • In 2020/2021, US News & World Report ranked Dominican as a top performer for social mobility.

The soul of our institution resides in the Dominican values. Those values, the values of study, reflection, community and service, are at the core of our mission. — President Mary B. Marcy


he Dominican Experience places the University among a small group of colleges and universities in the United States transformed around a clear vision of student engagement and high-quality learning. Today, every undergraduate student at Dominican, regardless of major, has access to personalized coaching, takes part in community engagement, completes original research or a signature work, and develops a digital portfolio to provide a portable record of their educational experience. “The Dominican Experience ensures that there is a broad array of engagement opportunities in- and outside of the classroom,” President Marcy said. “It describes the intentionally designed, holistic support available to our students. And it shows us that education is about coursework and an accumulation of skills, beliefs, and a set of ethics that carry on well beyond our students’ time on campus.” As the Dominican Experience was integrated into the fabric of the institution, signs of improvement were notable. Student success as defined by graduation rates has improved dramatically since 2011, with the four-year rate increasing from 36% in 2011 to 72% in 2020 — well above the national average. This fall, student retention between the first to second year was 87%, and was highest among first-generation students. This success soon became recognized by peers in higher education. A few recent accolades include:

“While it is nice to look back and tick off the awards and the achievements and say ‘Dominican is in the top 10 in the nation for graduate salaries — right behind Stanford — or Dominican is No. 1 in the country for transformation, what the awards represent is much more important than the hardware,” President Marcy said. “What these awards and achievements mean is that we transformed our institution so that students from all kinds of diverse backgrounds — including first-generation students and Pell-eligible students — would come to Dominican, graduate on time, and be successful,” she added. “We developed an educational model that is responsive to our students that brought the Dominican values into the 21st century, while staying true to our 130-year legacy.”


resident Marcy is quick to credit Dominican’s faculty and staff for helping develop the Dominican Experience, and for harnessing innovation that has enabled the launch of new programs and a comprehensive revision of the University’s curriculum. Both actions, she notes, have helped Dominican weather the pandemic and remain a strong institution. In 2017, seeking to embed engaged learning in every aspect of a student’s college journey and align academic programs with the Dominican Experience, President Marcy and members of her cabinet worked with the faculty to support a comprehensive revision of the entire curriculum. The general education program shifted away from a pathway focused on specific academic disciplines to a core curriculum defined by skills and competencies that provide greater responsiveness to student exploration and streamlines the time to degree. Dominican also strategically added new programs that respond to workforce demand and build on institutional strengths. New Physician Assistant, Global Public Health, and Health Care Leadership programs are



FEATURE designed to prepare graduates for some of the country’s fastest-growing careers, as is the new Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Med certificate launched in fall 2020. Also in fall 2020, Dominican introduced a new Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) program to prepare graduates for careers in the rising field of data analytics. And innovation continues within existing programs. As part of curriculum alignment, the faculty transformed the religion minor to align with contemporary issues of equity, ethics and social justice. The new community action and social change minor is accessible to all undergraduate students regardless of major. A commitment to mission has remained central to these advances and additions. “We started to build on the strengths of our institution, our history and our faculty,” President Marcy said. “To be able to have the creativity and innovation among faculty to add these programs and create more opportunities for students was a great deal of work, but it was satisfying work, and it will have an important and long-lasting impact.”


here is one event — now tradition — that President Marcy helped establish that remains wildly popular with the students: The Final Countdown. “Inauguration came as we were just kicking off the fall basketball season, and the students wanted me to come to the midnight madness basketball game,” she said. “I thought I was just going to throw the ball up for the tip-off, but it turns out they wanted me to make the first basket. So — still in my inauguration dress and heels — I took off my shoes, took a pass from Te Manu Whakataki “Taki” Te Koi ’12 and made the basket.”

cord-breaking commitments to support the comprehensive renovation of the 130-year-old Meadowlands Hall into a state-of-the-art health sciences complex, seven-figure gifts in support of the Dominican Experience and the Barowsky School of Business, gifts to complete and expand the Allen Athletics Complex, and most recently, a seven-figure support of the expansion of the athletics program and implementation of coronavirus testing. President Marcy has fond memories of the Meadowlands renovation, as it was the result of a gift made from the heart. In 2012, the late Rolf Lewis donated $8 million to honor his wife, Valerie Hetherington, a retired nurse. “When I started talking with Rolf Lewis about a major gift, it became clear that he not only wanted to make a gift in honor of his wife but also ensure the gift would help us transform the health sciences at Dominican,” she said. The renovation of the 30,000-square-foot Meadowlands, originally built in 1888 by San Francisco Chronicle Publisher Michael H. de Young, tripled the space dedicated to Dominican’s health sciences program and created a home for departments that previously were housed in five buildings across campus and one off-campus site. Today, faculty and students in nursing, occupational therapy, physician assistant studies, and public health can work under one roof in state-of-the-art classrooms, research and laboratory space, and a series of medical simulation labs that provide clinical experiences in a virtual reality environ-

The crowd cheered, and there was no turning back. Now, every December, at the start of finals week, The Final Countdown matchup has become a much-anticipated event, pitching President Marcy’s team of faculty and staff (unofficially known as “Marcy’s Marauders”) against a student team. Despite having played college hoops, she laughs, “The real reason I am stepping down is I cannot survive that basketball game anymore.”


s President Marcy’s vision for Dominican became a reality, the University saw a significant increase in financial support from alumni, friends and foundations. In the last eight years, the annual fundraising support for Dominican has increased by more than 30%. This financial support has not only transformed student lives but also helped to shape the campus. Gifts included re-



President Marcy with Rolf Lewis

FEATURE ment. As a result, faculty collaboration across the departments has grown, and new programs have flourished. “The restoration transformed Meadowlands into a dynamic center for teaching and learning,” President Marcy said. “It was a true labor of love for Rolf, and it was wonderful for him to see the transformation and be there to cut the ribbon only a few months before he died. Meadowlands is a lasting legacy that also brought great joy to someone in their final months of life.”


nder President Marcy’s leadership, Dominican not only gained visibility as a national leader in independent higher education, but also has attracted opportunities to develop new, innovative programs and strategic partnerships. Many of these partnerships and initiatives are the first-oftheir-kind in the nation. However, one could help shape the nation in years to come. In 2019, President Marcy was invited by the State of California’s chief service officer to lead an effort to develop the Civic Action Fellowship, an innovative statewide program designed to help students pay for college through public service. The Fellowship was based on Reimagining Citizenship, a scholarship and public service program created in partnership with the City of Novato. Through this program Fellows receive paid on-the-job training with the city. In turn, Dominican provides a substantial scholarship, offers targeted mentorship, and grants the students credit toward a minor in community action and social change.

“As it continues to expand statewide, The Civic Action Fellowship presents a new, innovative way for financing higher education, and underscores the value of civic engagement and community service,” President Marcy explained. “I believe the model that the Civic Action Fellowship provides — expecting students to give back in return for the benefits of higher education — is a really powerful model. I also believe that students have a lot to give back and want to contribute to their community long after they graduate.”


y fall 2019, President Marcy was recognized across the country as a leader in higher education, and was often invited to speak with national audiences and international media about the Dominican Experience. One such invitation came from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, which asked her to serve as a visiting scholar. At Harvard, Marcy shared Dominican’s transformation with both faculty and students, expanded her research on the future of small colleges, and further developed a book manuscript based on her 2017 Change magazine article.

President Marcy at Commencement 2018

I think what I’ll carry with me is this notion that you can take a 130-year-old mission and carry it into the future... — President Mary B. Marcy Her 2020 book, “The Small College Imperative,” outlined the many innovative ways that small colleges, including Dominican, are evolving to respond to changing student needs. Now, as she prepares to depart Dominican for her next higher education adventure — which includes the continuation of her Fellowship at Harvard University — Marcy looks forward to writing about her work at Dominican and how it fits within the larger higher education landscape. “I think what I’ll carry with me is this notion that you can take a 130-year-old mission and carry it into the future,” she said. “It can remain relevant, even urgent, as long as you’re clear about the difference between what it needs to adapt and what should never change because it’s absolutely central to the identity of the institution. “At Dominican, our values and our mission have been the throughline for every innovation, every new partnership, and every intentionally designed facet of the Dominican Experience,” President Marcy continued. “This work, realized through the creativity of our faculty and staff, and the crucial support from our alumni, partners and friends, has earned the University national recognition. And, most importantly, it is making a real difference in our students’ lives.”




President Marcy’s Decade of Leadership, by the Numbers 1 2 3 4 4


19 22


Dominican selected No. 1 in the nation for Institutional Transformation by the American Council on Education Two visiting scholar appointments to the Harvard Graduate School of Education


Three first-time grants received from national foundations: • Andrew W. Mellon • Arthur Vining Davis • Lumina Four Dominican Ideals: Study, Reflection, Community, Service Four components of our signature program, The Dominican Experience: • Integrated coaching • Community engagement • Signature work • Digital portfolios Six facilities renovated, completed, or inaugurated • Meadowlands • Albertus Magnus • Barowsky House • Allen Athletics Complex • Softball Field • The Center for the Dominican Experience


Nine times that Penguin athletes won the PacWest Academic Achievement Award Ten new programs and innovative partnerships: • Endowed Dominican/ Oxford Scholars • Reimagining Citizenship • California Civic Action Fellows • Make School incubation partnership • Physician Assistant Studies • Global Public Health • Health Care Leadership • Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Med certificate • Low-residency MFA in Creative Writing • Master of Science in Business Analytics


Dominican ranks 11th in the nation ranking among private colleges for social mobility


41 Percent increase of students since 2011 who identify as ethnically diverse


45 Majors and minors redesigned as part of curriculum realignment

87 15,000+

87 Percent of first-to-secondyear retention in fall 2020

Student hours of civic engagement in a single year

1 million + Downloads from Dominican Scholar of Dominican faculty, staff and student publications

$53 million + Total funds raised for Dominican in 10 years

Immeasurable Thanks for President Marcy’s leadership and vision

ALUMNI NEWS Dear Fellow Alumni, As I read through this issue of The Torch, I feel an overwhelming sense of pride for our beloved alma mater, and I hope you do, too. During one of the most challenging years in recent history, Dominican never lost sight of what we do best: support students. Faculty got creative with virtual teaching, administrators broke down silos across departments, and the entire community diligently adhered to public health protocols. Alumni also played a part! As I write this letter, we’re wrapping up another successful All In for Dominican, which took place March 22-26. Together, we raised $189,204 from 833 donors in just one week, all of which will support the students following in our footsteps. Alumni from the class of 1951 to the class of 2024 made gifts to scholarships, schools and programs to create opportunities for Dominican students. Thank you for going All In. As we look ahead to the fall semester, we are cautiously optimistic that we’ll be able to host the annual Christmas Mass and Celebration and other alumni gatherings on campus. We’re also looking forward to continuing virtual events. One positive to come out of the last year is that all alumni can “attend” events from literally anywhere in the world. I can’t wait to safely resume in-person events, but virtual gatherings are here to stay as a complement to future Penguin connections.

2020-2021 Alumni Board of Directors Sr. Patricia Dougherty O.P, ’67 Stewart McRae ’77 Lorraine Barry ’86 Jennifer Kelly ’98 Christian Lorentz ’02, MBA ’12 Natisa Dill ’02 Danny Ballesteros ’03 Anne Torok ’04 Charles Torok ’04 Brian Moore (President-Elect) ’05 Claudia Fromm, MS ’05 Gigi Gillard ’06, MBA ’07 Felicia Bell ’06 Sherri Bridgeforth ’06 Cady Marsh (President) ’07, MBA ’09 Marcia Barahona (Past President) ’10, MBA ’15 Lorel Geidt (Secretary) ’10, MS ’14 Chris O'Mara ’10, MS ’18 Matt Gaulding, MBA ’12 Cynthia Roldan-Frias, MBA ’14

I hope to see you online or on campus soon!

Kim Harris ’15, MS ’16


Salvador Chavez ’16, MSOT ’17 Alexis Rauschkolb ’18

Cady Marsh ’07, MBA ’09




Alumni Profile: Cameron Almeida ’18 and personally, presented themselves in abundance. Service providers and employees hired me at a moment’s notice not necessarily over Dominican’s name, but the value system imparted from the University.” Upon graduation, Cameron decided to pursue a master’s degree in his quest to go to medical school. His first choice was the University of Cincinnati. “I had grown tremendously during undergrad, but felt an extra boost to my application was needed before I could be ready for medical school,” Cameron explained. “The Master’s Program in Physiology at the University of Cincinnati was exactly that.”


fter graduating with a master’s degree in physiology from the University of Cincinnati and overcoming a bout with COVID-19, Cameron Almeida ’18 now has a job to finish before starting medical school at Northeast Ohio Medical University in August. Cameron is a full-time learning hub instructor at Bay Area Community Resources (BACR) in San Rafael, near the Dominican campus. The move has brought back fond memories of how, once he arrived from Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga, Dominican prepared him for a career helping others in need. “I really wanted to transfer out of community college before reaching the 60-credit threshold for public universities, and I was exploring private schools,” Cameron said. “Dominican stuck out in particular due to its small size and friendly atmosphere. I wanted to get into medical school, and biology was the major with all the prerequisite classes. In addition, research — a major staple in medical school applications — was part of the curriculum. This may come across one-track-minded to some, but, to me, fulfilling my dreams is as essential as breathing.” Cameron’s first day at Dominican in 2014 also happened to be Dr. Tyler Johnson’s first day teaching. Dr. Johnson, associate professor in the Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics in the School of Health and Natural Sciences, became Cameron’s teacher, mentor and inspiration. “He has an infectious desire to help others, and out of every faculty member present, I looked toward his guidance first,” Cameron said. “A mentor should believe in you even when you don’t. They should celebrate your successes and allow you to fail, because in failure the hardest lessons become engrained. Dr. Johnson embodies all of these and is someone willing to move heaven and earth for his students. I would never have gotten into medical school had he not entered my life.”

Last April, on the verge of getting his master’s degree, Cameron was diagnosed with COVID-19. His housemate was a healthcare worker who contracted the virus, so the entire household of five occupants tested positive soon after the first COVID patients arrived at the university’s medical center. To protect his family in Los Angeles from the virus, Cameron refrained from driving home and remained bedridden in Ohio, quarantined in his room.

As a physician, understanding what it means to be positive will keep me strong in times of crisis. — Cameron Almeida “I became restless from not being able to help out during a global pandemic, which had me applying for short-term jobs created to address new disparities. The work also helped get my mind off med school applications,” Cameron said. “I do not have a healthcare license yet, and figured there are always other ways people need assistance besides direct patient care. BACR specifically needed a science instructor and I knew the area well from attending Dominican, so the job was a natural fit.” Dominican trained Cameron well for his path to becoming a physician. He hopes to be a first responder on the ground in wake of a natural disaster, in order to help start the healing process.

At Dominican, Cameron presented at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research in Memphis, participated in a research field trip to New Zealand, and spent time as a student assistant in the Physician Assistant Studies Program. He also interned at San Antonio Regional Hospital and was a health education intern for the City of Montclair.

“Dominican taught me the value of a positive attitude. The general vibe is one of kindness, openness and sincerity,” Cameron said. “These are soft lessons lost in the moment but carried years down the road into making Dominican graduates well-rounded leaders of tomorrow. There are plenty of times when I could have given up on medicine, but knowing the value of happiness pushed me forward. My time at Dominican was not always pleasant, but it was a perfect microcosm of life. Everyone just wants to be happy and has a different way of going about it. We eat, play, conflict and grow as a community.

“Dominican was transformative, to say the least,” he said. “Opportunities to redefine who I wanted to be, both professionally

“As a physician, understanding what it means to be positive will keep me strong in times of crisis.”




Alumni Profile: Sister Carla Kovack, OP ’69


ister Carla Kovack, OP ’69 drew inspiration at an early age from the Dominican Sisters who taught and mentored her. Under their tutelage, she witnessed and was moved by the genuine care they showed for those they served, and the love and respect they had for each other. Growing up in Eagle Rock, Calif., Sister Carla was introduced to the community while a Saint Dominic School student. After arriving in San Rafael in 1964, she entered the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael novitiate at Santa Sabina and enrolled at Dominican College. While contemplating a religious vocation, Sister Carla was also drawn to the Dominican Sisters’ sense of individuality. Central to her formation were the models set by Sister Claire Herlihy, OP ’51, and Sister Aquinas Nimitz, OP. Both Sisters emanated a “power of presence” that inspired Sister Carla to a ministry lived genuinely and selflessly. Today, Sister Carla serves as the Prioress General of the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael. She is grateful that all of the Sisters have remained healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that they have been able to carry on their ministry in today’s remote and socially distanced world. They continue to find ways to shift and change with the people they serve, and to embrace their religious community’s respect for a collective leadership model in which all members are responsible for guiding their ministry and direction. While her own experience as a college student may not have been traditional, Sister Carla recognizes how transformative Dominican is for students. She may not have appreciated it at the time, but she now credits Dominican’s humanities program with instilling curiosity and promoting the notion that learning is about wonder, awe and connection. After graduating from Dominican College in 1969, Sister Carla’s first assignment was as a first-grade teacher in Lodi, Calif. Her career included teaching and leadership positions at several schools before shifting to administrative and formation ministry for the Sisters. She returned to Dominican in 2003 as the associate director of campus ministry and a professor of religion.

She also served on Dominican’s Women, Leadership and Philanthropy Council and on the Mother Mary Raymond Scholarship Fund board. It was former campus ministry director Father Bob Haberman who told Sister Carla in her interview that the role of Domincan’s campus ministry is the “ministry of presence.” That simple concept was the backbone of her 11 years working directly with Dominican students. Building on the Dominican tradition of body, mind and spirit, Sister Carla believes that you always begin with the body — and that starts with food. She always has Red Vines or a homemade brownie available for any student or visitor who wanders by her office. Just as the body is fed with delicious treats, the spirit is fed through beauty. Sister Carla truly appreciates all that is beautiful about Dominican. She acknowledges that this place — the campus and people — calls people here and that the community keeps them. Offering a parallel to her vocational calling, she recognizes the campus community as fostering a sense that together we are bigger than who we are as individuals. The concepts of food and sustenance permeate many of Sister Carla’s conversations. She is fond of the saying “hoarded grain rots,” a quote attributed to St. Dominic that underscores her belief that by sharing the gifts that have been bestowed on us, our community and the world are made better. Sister Carla’s early realization that education is about people and not necessarily the process has allowed her to connect deeply with others. She is always grateful to learn from students and colleagues, recognizing that education is a way to seed the future and that future excites her. She revealed that if reincarnation is possible, she would love to come back as a farmer, because she has always been drawn to the soil. Whether it was working on worm composting, building a community garden on the Dominican campus, or reaping the bounty of what has grown with others through this work, it is evident that she is a farmer who continues to seed our future.




Congratulations to the 2020 Alumni Award Recipients The Alumni Association presents four annual awards to honor deserving graduates, faculty, staff and friends of Dominican University of California. Honorees receive the awards during Reunion Weekend each year. Although we could not celebrate our 2020 awardees in person, we honor their accomplishments and thank them for their service.

Sister M. Patricia Lyons Distinguished Alumni Award Established in 1982 in honor of Sister Patricia Lyons, O.P., who provided 33 years of outstanding service to Dominican as director of alumni relations, this award honors Alumni Association members who have distinguished themselves in the service of the University. Sister Margaret Diener ’70 Currently representing the Dominican Sisters on the University’s board of trustees, Sister Margaret Diener ’70 is a tireless advocate for social and economic justice and the transformative power of contemplation and prayer. Sister Margaret began her career in educational administration, working at the University as director of the Alemany Library from 1980-1991 and holding positions as an English instructor and co-director of Fanjeaux residence hall before taking the helm of Katalysis, a nonprofit assisting low-income communities in developing countries. For more than a decade, she has served as the director of Santa Sabina Retreat Center, the Dominican Sisters’ retreat and conference center adjacent to Edgehill Mansion.

Sr. Patricia was a beloved mentor and friend. Her dedication to and leadership in fostering the alumni association laid the groundwork for its growth and fruitfulness. — Sister Margaret Diener ’70 Sister Margaret is a former member of the San Domenico School Board of Directors, the Council for the Parliament of the World’s Religions, the Community and Economic Initiatives Committee of Catholic Healthcare West, and most recently was appointed to a five-year term on the leadership team of the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael. “I'm honored to receive the Sister Patricia Lyons award,” Sister Margaret said. “Sr. Patricia was a beloved mentor and friend. Her dedication to and leadership in fostering the alumni association laid the groundwork for its growth and fruitfulness. I was pleased when she asked me to follow her as the sister representative on the association board. I am delighted with this



recognition, for my commitment to the transformative power of education and service I received as a student has never wavered. “With gratitude, I think of the support and active engagement of my fellow alums that were important to me as a faculty member and now as a University board member. That same support, benefaction and engagement continues to be critical in the University's future. Our collective efforts are more needed than ever to see that Dominican continues to provide the same life-changing opportunities for students today. We know the treasure we have received. With pride, let us share it."

Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award Established in 1995, this award recognizes alumni who exemplify the Dominican values of study, community, reflection and service through significant contributions to their professional fields and consistent service to the University. Dr. Julie Jordan ’75 Pianist and Steinway Artist Dr. Julie Jordan ’75 is the founder and artistic director of the New York Concerti Sinfonietta. Nurturing the talent of other musicians through her Julie Jordan Presents series, she has sponsored the debuts of international soloists from leading conservatories and universities in venues such as Carnegie Hall, as well as salon settings and churches throughout New York City. A key focus of Jordan’s work is creating performance opportunities for all levels of musicians, from virtuoso music students and young artists to professional musicians and conductors. A faculty member of The Juilliard School from 1985-2015, Julie created the popular masterclasses The Piano Concerto and Solo and Collaborative Piano. “My years at Dominican College were truly a lifetime treasure that I carry with me every day,” Dr. Jordan said. “My best privilege and inspiration was studying on full scholarship with the legendary concert pianist and pedagogue, Adolph Baller, of the

It is my goal to continue sharing all I learned not only in the piano solo and collaborative repertoire, but most importantly, through my teaching — Dr. Julie Jordan ’75


Alma Trio and Yehudi Menuhin’s accompanist, who was a survivor from the Polish concentration camp. Our rich education in the humanities was thought-provoking, with fantastic faculty including Dr. Barbara Bundy, Jules Langert and Sister Aquinas, among others, at Dominican's idyllic campus. “It is my goal to continue sharing all I learned not only in the piano solo and collaborative repertoire, but most importantly, through my teaching and performance debuts for students of all ages and backgrounds with my New York Concerti Sinfonietta — a non-for-profit fiscally sponsored by Fractured Atlas. As founder and artistic director I am renewed with the thrill of presenting International Shining Stars from my competition for young artists and adult musicians on prestigious platforms such as Carnegie Hall and salon settings around the globe.”

Sister M. Aquinas Nimitz, O.P. Distinguished Service Award Established in 2006 in recognition of Sister M. Aquinas Nimitz’s 42 years of service to the University, this award honors those who have distinguished themselves through outstanding service, commitment and dedication to all members of the Dominican community. Dr. Ruth Ramsey The founding director and former chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy, Dr. Ruth Ramsey built the program from the ground up in 1996, leading it through three successful national accreditations and transitioning it from an undergraduate to a graduate program. Respected by students and colleagues for her ability to forge working relationships with a variety of local partners, Dean Ramsey is responsible for raising the profile of Dominican’s allied health programs and opening pathways with local agencies that fill needs in our community while preparing students for real-world practice. She was appointed Dean of the School of Health and Natural Sciences in 2017. more than ever I am grateful for the work we do, for our amazing faculty, staff and students, and for our wise leadership in this difficult time. — Dr. Ruth Ramsey “I am honored and humbled to be the recipient of this award, and especially gratified to be in the good company of the former recipients, who have each made incredible contributions to grow and sustain Dominican University,” Dean Ramsey said. “Dominican is truly my community, as it has been for the last 23 years, and now more than ever I am grateful for the work we do, for our amazing faculty, staff and students, and for our wise leadership in this difficult time.”

Outstanding Recent Graduate This award recognizes Dominican alumni who have graduated within the last 10 years. Honorees exemplify our values of study, community, reflection and service through their work in their communities, professions and other endeavors. Casey Lee Thorne ’10 Casey Lee Thorne ’10 is the founder and artistic director of Inside Out Contemporary Ballet and was an assistant professor of dance at Southern Utah University. Thorne was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to Israel in 2014-2015, where she conducted a dance outreach program called If I Were You – Project Israel, part of a long-term international exploration that enlists the personal experiences and voices of global citizens to illuminate how dance can connect our shared humanity. She received her MFA in dance studies from Mills College in 2018. Casey has danced professionally with American Repertory Ballet in Princeton, N.J., Oakland Ballet, Ars Minerva Opera, and James Graham Dance Theatre. Casey recently returned to Marin and is on the faculty at the Marin Ballet and is the artistic director of Inside Out Contemporary Ballet.

My career reflects an ongoing commitment to and appreciation of the high standards of excellence and civic responsibility that DU instilled in me. — Casey Lee Thorne ’10 “As a member of the inaugural class of the Alonzo King LINES Ballet BFA Program at Dominican University of California, I am extremely humbled to receive the Outstanding Recent Graduate Award,” Casey said. “My career reflects an ongoing commitment to and appreciation of the high standards of excellence and civic responsibility that DU instilled in me. I am in awe of the humanity expressed by my professors and peers, who mirrored devotion, artistry and passion day in and day out. I dedicate this award to you, and to my mentors and employers who have taken chances on me and believed in my work over the years. Thank you for this honor."




Two Loyal Donors Celebrate 50th Anniversary 2021 represents an impressive milestone for two proud Dominican University of California alumnae. Cecile Boom Kiser ‘60 and Barbara Walcom ‘63 will celebrate 50 consecutive years of annual giving to their alma mater.


ecile Boom Kiser grew up in the North Bay, attending St. Vincent Catholic School. She had originally planned to attend San Jose State University but was invited to an open house at Dominican. Cecile immediately fell in love with Dominican’s beautiful campus and small size.

Cecile credits the University’s strong reputation for training educators with helping her land her first teaching job — the school principal hired her on the spot — and she went on to work as a teacher for nearly 40 years (1960-2001), taking a few years off to stay home with her three children.

Cecile almost had to leave the University after her second year when she could no longer afford the tuition. She told Sister Anita that she was planning to transfer to San Francisco State’s Sonoma campus for financial reasons, and Sister Anita instead offered her a workstudy opportunity in the admissions and registrar’s office that allowed her to complete her education at Dominican. Cecile graduated in 1960 with a degree in education and a teaching credential. “I could not be more proud to have graduated from Dominican,” she said.

After retirement, Cecile studied Italian and learned to make quilts. Her advice to current students is to continue to educate yourself. “Keep the brain active,” she said, “and never give up.”


or Barbara Walcom and her three sisters, attending Dominican was a family affair. As proud third-generation San Franciscans, the siblings felt fortunate to study in nearby Marin County. The Catholic tradition was important to Barbara’s parents, both having attended Catholic high schools in San Francisco, and her father was an alumnus of St. Mary’s. Barbara graduated from Dominican in 1963 with a degree in American civics and a teaching credential. Barbara went on to work as a third-grade teacher in Gonzales, CA., south of Salinas. She, too, credits a Dominican connection with helping her find her teaching job. Barbara’s roommate was from Gonzales. Barbara started teaching as a temporary substitute for a friend on maternity leave and remained a dedicated teacher in Gonzales for 38 years.

When asked why she so loyally supports Dominican, Cecile is clear: “I have donated since graduation because I was so delighted to have been able to complete my education at Dominican,” she said.

Barbara has many reasons for being a loyal Dominican donor. Because she grew up watching her parents steadfastly donate to their schools, supporting one’s alma mater became a family tradition. Barbara also recognizes the impact that alumni participation and giving have on school rankings. She’s proud of the changes in Dominican, most notably the student body’s increased diversity and the number of first-generation students. And, she said, “Campus is even more beautiful now than when I was a student. It looks like they painted the lawn with a paintbrush!” Barbara’s advice to current students and other alumni is to keep in touch with Dominican friends and classmates and to continue supporting each other. “You don’t realize how important it is until later on,” she said.

Dominican is grateful to Cecile, Barbara, and the many donors who loyally support the university every year. The University launched the Acacia Society in 2019 to celebrate those who give to Dominican for two or more consecutive years. Members are invited to an annual Champagne Brunch to hear directly from students who benefit from their generosity. They also receive a commemorative Dominican calendar.




MBA Degree Pushes Alumna Over Top In Dominican Experience


hether it was working with a nonprofit in Georgia or helping first-year students feel at home on the Dominican campus, Jannel Mariano ’16, MBA ’20, has always been invested in helping others. Still, a recent MBA degree from Dominican and a new job at SurveyMonkey near Silicon Valley has helped her discover and rely on her natural strengths. “My Dominican experience has been incredible. I’ve spent more years at Dominican than any town I grew up in, so it will always feel like home to me,” says Jannel, now a recruiting coordinator at the online survey development cloud-based software as a service company based in San Mateo. “Dominican opened doors for me and opened my eyes to different worlds I couldn’t imagine myself being in 10 years ago. Tell 17-year-old Jannel she would have landed a job in a big tech company, and she would have laughed. I owe a lot to Dominican for supporting me in my journey.” Jannel arrived at Dominican in 2012. As a Global Public Health major, she jumped into internships, minored in leadership studies, and participated in a Campus Ministry immersion trip to El Salvador. She eventually secured a job as a refugee resettlement specialist with Catholic Charities USA through Dominican Volunteers of Atlanta. In 2017, Jannel returned to Dominican to work as counselor of undergraduate admissions. She had been a student ambassador captain in Admissions as an undergraduate.

“I wanted to come back `home’ and I was drawn to the opportunities that Dominican provided. I wanted to open the door for other students with similar backgrounds as myself,” Jannel says. “My parents didn’t attend college in the United States, and I had to bear a lot of the brunt of having to navigate the college search on my own; the application process, understanding financial aid, and what it meant to move into the residence halls. It was a lot for me to figure out, but my admissions counselor was fantastic at answering all my questions.” After two years back at Dominican, Jannel was inspired to pursue her MBA. “I was dipping my toes in efforts and causes I was passionate about and knew would have a big impact,” she says. “I allowed myself to lean into strengths like logistics, planning, and relationship management. I knew these skills would serve me well but did not quite know my `place’ yet. I enrolled in the MBA program in hopes of it leading me to a successful career.” As she progressed through the program, Jannel started to see how her skills and experience would translate to a business setting. Courses with Dr. Thomas Cavanagh taught her how to communicate effectively and hone her critical thinking skills. “The MBA program challenged me to think beyond what one person can do and how team dynamic is important to the success of a business,” she says. “I learned how to collaborate effectively with different

people, listen and understand their perspective, and problem-solve quickly.” As graduation approached, Jannel connected with Courtney Budesa, director of internships and professional development in the Barowsky School of Business. Jannel mentioned she had applied to SurveyMonkey, and Courtney connected her with a friend who had previously worked there. That helped Jannel prepare for her interview. “I got a better understanding of the culture and, with the guidance of Courtney, I was able to land the job,” Jannel says. “I spent a lot of time on the phone and on Zoom with Courtney working on my resume, going over potential interview questions, and how to negotiate my salary.” At SurveyMonkey, Jannel is a recruiting coordinator. She partners with recruiters and candidates to ensure the interview experience is seamless for everyone. She specializes in working with interns and executive searches. “SurveyMonkey wasn’t part of my master plan, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised,” Jannel says. I wanted to make the switch into tech to make an impact on a more global scale. SurveyMonkey’s vision is to raise the bar for human experiences by amplifying individual voices. This vision aligns with the personal values I’ve built through my previous occupations and my experience at Dominican.”




Mary Clara (Cassidy) Santana ’65

Natasha Yim ’83, MS ’86

1960s Mary Clara (Cassidy) Santana ’65 celebrated her 55-year reunion with her fellow Peace Corps volunteers who served in Iran. Peace Corps changed their beliefs and perceptions of the world (like it does for all who serve), and for that they are forever grateful.

1970s Beth Gonzales ’72 is Zooming twice a month with her classmates. They have about 20 "regulars,” and mostly spend their energy laughing and comparing notes about surviving during COVID-19. Everyone supports one another and brings cheer into each other's lives. They are full of hope and love, and are there for each other and the Dominican community..

1980s Mimi Rang ’81 still enjoys being her own boss in her radiology practice in Frankfurt, Germany after 33 years in medicine and 26 years of marriage. Her children are almost out of the house, with the oldest studying violin in North Carolina, and the second studying drama in Vienna. Mimi plans to return to Marin County for some time after retiring, since her memories of Dominican are among the most cherished and still so vivid. If it weren’t for the pandemic, she would love to come to Reunion this year.



Pat (Nieburg) Miller ’96

Natasha Yim ’83, MS ’86 is a children's author. She released her 7th picture book, “Luna’s Yum Yum Dim Sum,” part of Charlesbridge Publishing’s Storytelling Math series, on Dec. 22, 2020. She is currently working on a project with Disney Press to create a picture book based on an as-yetunreleased Pixar film. The book will be published in Spring 2022. Natasha is also working on several other picture book projects as well as two middle-grade novels. When she's not writing, Natasha works part-time for the Mendocino County Office of Education as a grant manager and writer. She married attorney Brian Carter in 1999, and they have three children. One is attending college at UC Santa Barbara, one is studying at Pace University in New York, and the third is a freshman in high school. Carla (Martini) Ferris ’84 is completing a Master of Arts in Public History Program, which explores museum, archival and history studies. As she concludes the internship stage of the program, she is just weeks away from submitting her final paper. Brigid Richards ’87 retired as a public high school teacher with San Rafael City Schools, and has been quarantining with older relatives in Point Richmond. She will soon return to her San Rafael home with her son and granddaughter.

Jodi Klugman-Rabb ’01

Emmalie Hawes ’02 and Ken Hawes ’12

1990s Mark Weston ’93 received his second COVID-19 shot at the Marin Civic Center on Feb. 9. Much to his delight, he was escorted to a table staffed by Dominican nursing students. He received his second shot from student Brandon Sudo ’22. A longtime nurse himself, Mark praised Brandon’s technique and hopes to see him out in the field someday. Patricia Devencenzi ’95 graduated with an MSN-Ed last year. She is currently working as a clinical practice and professional development specialist for St. Charles Health System in Bend, Ore. She is also joyfully waiting for the arrival of her third grandbaby. Pat (Nieburg) Miller ’96 has published seven books on dog training and behavior, is celebrating Peaceable Paws' 25th anniversary this year, was named one of 45 people who have changed the dog world by Dog Fancy Magazine in 2015, received a Lifetime Achievement award from the Association of Professional Dog Trainers in 2018, and has now been married to her husband Paul for 34 years.


Jeannette (Ritchie) Martin ’96

Monica Williams ’05

Amanda (Wagner) Munoz ’09

2000s Jodi Klugman-Rabb ’01 graduated from the master’s program in counseling psychology and is now an adjunct professor in the department teaching career counseling. She continues her private practice while also pursuing a PsyD in industrial and organizational psychology at Touro University. Emmalie Hawes ’02 and Ken Hawes ’12 have known each other since second grade and have been married for 22 years. They have two beautiful girls: Lila (a senior) and Ava (a sophomore). Ken is a general manager for an environmental nonprofit and Emmalie is a regional director of human resources for the Middleby Corporation. Herman Pugh ’03 has had two daughters since graduating from Dominican: Denise (15) and Victoria (13), and is married to Esther Pugh. Life has been truly good to his family. He currently teaches special education middle school students, and he recently completed his doctorate. Dominican gave him the opportunity to make mistakes, and to grow through them. He is grateful for those he’s stayed in contact with from the University, and for all of the memories that shaped his life.

Stacey (Rivera) Bermudez ’09

Cassandra Urroz ’09 and Anthony Urroz ’09

Monica Williams ’05 is a content marketing paralegal for Disney+ at The Walt Disney Company. She just earned her first below-the-line music credit for the documentary, “The Black Church” on PBS. Kimberly Corbett ’07 recently joined Carla Bonilla-Barbier at Barbier Security Group as the new Human Resources Coordinator. Kimberly worked with Elizabeth Thurman ’06 and her company Ignited Career to secure her new role. Amanda (Wagner) Munoz ’09 received a promotion and is now the product manager for Oakley and Costa-Plano Sunglasses. Stacey (Rivera) Bermudez ’09 received her MBA in human resources from NDNU in 2014 and is currently working in human resources for a self-driving automotive company based in San Francisco. Stacey got married in March 2019, and she and her husband had their first child in August 2020, a baby boy named Lucas. Cassandra Urroz ’09 and Anthony Urroz ’09 welcomed their third child, Anthony Jean-Bido, in July.

Lisa Wagenhurst ’09, MA ’17

Lisa Wagenhurst ’09, MA ’17 continued working for Dominican after finishing her Bachelor of Psychology degree in 2009. In 2013 she enrolled in the Master of Humanities program, and she graduated in 2017 with an emphasis in English. In August 2020, Lisa celebrated 20 years of service to Dominican's Nursing Department. She is currently taking an 120-hour online TOEFL certificate course in order to teach English courses online.

2010s Deborah Jaramillo ’11, MBA ’13 has joined Dev/Mission as COO and Deputy Director. Deborah is one of their Organization's Co-Founders and has served on the Board of Directors as CFO. Deborah was born and raised in SF from Guatemalan Heritage Parents and brings a Master Degree of Business Administration from Dominican and extensive experience in the Financial Sector for more than 10 years. Additionally, Deborah has been married for five years and is raising a beautiful three year old at their home in Rodeo, CA. Deborah enjoys singing, cooking, going on walks with her family, and playing with their newly adopted mini goldendoodle.




Deborah Jaramillo ’11, MBA ’13

Gabriel Guevara ’11

Gabriel Guevara ’11, Julie, and Shoshana welcomed the newest member of their family, baby Naomi Devora, on Dec. 10, 2020. She is named after her great, great grandma Gnomie and is giggly and silly just like her abba (daddy). Naomi arrived the same day as Julie and Gabe’s engagement anniversary. Alejandro Moreno ’11, a co-founder at the VenturePad co-working space in downtown San Rafael, has kept VenturePad afloat during the Pandemic—not an easy feat when many other coworking spaces have closed due to social distancing regulations. Even during these challenging times, VenturePad launched a startup business accelerator, which just signed a cannabis CBD startup and is about to add a new ag seed startup. More good news: VenturePad won the 2021 Marin IJ Reader’s Choice award for Best Coworking Space in Marin. Alejandro has had to pivot somewhat during the pandemic, dedicating more time to outside marketing/strategy clients i.e. the West Marin Medical Center in downtown Point Reyes, the Marin Spanish School in Mill Valley/ Petaluma and AB Inbev/Conscious Container, while also building websites for clients such as the Marin Economic Forum and the Sonoma



Rebecca Morgenstern Edmonds ’14

Valerie DeRoos Leon ’16

Biochar Initiative. The eventual working status goal of “digital nomad” has been accelerated by the Great Accelerator, COVID-19. He also continues to help manage the family olive farm in Tuscany both remotely and in person, and plans to obtain his Italian driver's license this spring. Rachael Elliott ’11 completed her Master of Education at Northeastern University in December 2020, and has also joined the International Students and Scholars office at Brandeis University as an international student advisor. Rebecca Morgenstern Edmonds ’14 joyfully married Anthony Edmonds on Oct. 3, 2020 in Twain Harte, California Their wedding ceremony was officiated by Lianni Castro ’04 and their wedding party included Lauren Emenaker ’13, Isabel Rangel ’15, and Dominican Volunteers USA alumna Kelly Parrett. Additional Dominican alumni friends participated in the wedding ceremony via Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rebecca and Anthony reside in Tuolumne County, where Rebecca works as the supervising public health nurse. The newlyweds look forward to renovating their new home together and going on a honeymoon once it's safe to travel.

Mios Buccat ’16, OT ’17 and Bryant Luong ’17

Cara Culligan ’16

Valerie DeRoos Leon ’16 and her husband Tomas welcomed baby Aubrey Sophia in June 2020. Valerie loves watching for all the developmental milestones, but most of all loves being a mom to now seven-month-old Aubrey. Mios Buccat ’16, OT ’17 and Bryant Luong ’17 got engaged on Sept. 19, 2020. They met in Dominican’s Occupational Therapy Program on a fieldwork placement. Cara Culligan ’16 graduated with a bachelor of design from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in 2017. Since moving to Australia, she has found the love of her life and has been working full time. Joey Saad ’17 was promoted to digital marketing manager at No Cow, a consumer packaged goods brand. Salvador Chavez ’17, MSOT ’18 has worked as an occupational therapist in the Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services at El Camino Health since graduating from Dominican. He was recently featured on Domincan's website and the hospital newsletter, highlighting his work during the pandemic as a mental health provider. He has also held several different leadership and


Joey Saad ’17

Ivy Torres ’19

Anna Musillami ’18

advocacy roles, including AOTA’s Emerging Leaders Development Program and a current alumni board member for the University. Anna Musillami ’18 completed her master’s degree in healthcare administration and was promoted as the quality control supervisor for the Credentialing Department for LifeStance Health, an outpatient mental health care organization. Mariah Meza ’18 graduated from Dominican with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and had played for the women’s soccer team. Since then, Mariah has completed her master’s degree in psychology with an emphasis in school psychology at San Francisco State University. She is currently finishing her hours to become a licensed school psychologist in California. She now lives in San Francisco and just received her first job offer for the 2021-2022 school year. She looks forward to staying in the Bay Area and rooting on Dominican Athletics.

Mariah Meza ’18

Wenjing Zhao ’20, and Alexander Thompson ’17

Germaine Semien ’19 received her master’s from NDNU in teaching English to speakers of other languages (ESL). She is currently in the MS eLearning program at CSU Hayward. Her long-term goal is to build online platforms for ESL teachers. Adrienne Davis ’19 has been working in the field of biological sciences for two years now, and has received two promotions. Ivy Torres ’19 is working at two amazing hospitals as an entry level OTR (Sutter Health Memorial Medical Center in Modesto and Contra Costa Regional Medical Center in Martinez). She gives a special shout out to the Dominican OT department.

Allison Kustic ’20

Keirsten Shepatin ’20 is enjoying the challenges of her MSW graduate program at Boston University’s School of Social Work. She is on the macro track with an emphasis on public policy. Keirsten thanks Dominican for preparing her for this next chapter in her education. Kara Smith ’20 is currently enrolled in the University of San Francisco Master of Arts in Teaching Program. Kara is planning to finish her studies in Spring 2022 and then begin work as an elementary school teacher.

2020s Wenjing Zhao ’20 and her husband Alexander Thompson ’17 both have stable jobs after graduating from Dominican. Their son, Leo, is going to kindergarten. Allison Kustic ’20 recently took a job as the community coordinator with SHE-CAN in Mill Valley.



In Sympathy ALUMNI


Virginia Granville Hargrave ’45

John Compton ’72

Marilyn Powell Larkin Kugelgen ’54

Rosanne Blackerby Govea ’74

Mary Mondo O’Brien ’54

Nancy Burrington ’77

Julie Nodson ’56

Caroline Kenney ’88

Ann McCann Cerney ’56

Xavier Mur ’88

Iris Campodonico Pera ’58

Socorro Lisa Soberano-Bausanta ’95

Francine Masotti Strain ’61

Deborah J. Lewis ’06

Barbara Arras Scruggs ’63

Ryan Smith ’20

Kathleen Kenny Stevens ’63

Cameron Yee ’20

Margaret Mayer Coombs ’64

Theodore Stratigos

Claudia St. Martin Hegwer ’65


Barbara Williams Labagh ’66

John Taddeucci

Thelma Nissen ’69


Anna Maria Pierini ’71

Jennifer Wells

STAFF Fr. Robert Haberman ’21 John F. Kennedy



Lorene Salmina Arbios ‘51 on the passing of husband, James Arbios. Abigail McCann ’59, Margaret McCann Grant ’61, Deborah McCann ’63 on the passing of sister Ann McCann Cerney ’56. Mary Bradley Horwitz ‘63, Margaret Bradley Davison ‘65, Jane Bradley ‘67 on the passing of husband and brotherin-law, Roger Davison. Barbara Dudley ’71 on the passing of mother, Nettie Dudley. Nancy Wolcott ’76 on the passing of husband, Douglas Wolcott. Austin Yee ’24 and Zabrina Fong ‘12 on the passing of sister and cousin, Cameron Yee ’20.

Your Gift to Dominican Changes Lives Gifts to the Dominican Angel Fund help students with emergency expenses and financial hardships that present an immediate and significant challenge to their success at the University.

I am a first-year master’s student in the Biological Sciences program, where I am working in partnership with the Buck Institute. I study the neurobiological mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease and am investigating a potential supplement that may improve some of the issues associated with Alzheimer’s. I live with my parents and last semester, all of my family’s financial struggles came to a head. My father lost his job because of the pandemic and we were unable to make ends meet. You, the Angel Fund donors, came in at the 11th hour and gave my family and me the ability to breathe a sigh of relief. Being able to further my education is a privilege and an opportunity, and when money was so tight, I feared I would have to put my education on hold. My family and I thank you a million times over. You granted me a lifeline in a time of severe need, and I am so grateful! — Cavan Patterson Master of Science in Biological Sciences Expected graduation: May 2022

There are many ways to support Dominican: Return the envelope (415) 257-1396

Include Dominican in your estate plan. Get started today: contact Marly A. Norris at (415) 257-1396 or


50 Acacia Avenue San Rafael, California 94901 Address service requested